The Non-Snobby Wine Guide

Awash in wine confusion? Cleanse your palate before your next party.
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Wine Guide

1. Should I buy a corked bottle or are screw tops ok?
No need to be uptight about screw tops: They actually allow you to taste wine exactly as it was bottled. Corks do play a part in wine's aging, but come on -- how often do you let bottles mature longer than a gallon of milk?

2. I don't know how much wine to buy.
Generally, one regular 750ml bottle yields five 5-ounce glasses. (Count ounces with "one Mississippi, two Mississippi," etc.) Plan on about three glasses per person, depending on your crowd. So for a party for 10, you'd need at least 30 glasses -- or six bottles -- of wine.

 

3. My friends will laugh at boxed wine.
Well, the joke's on them. Boxed is a great design: a sealed bag fitted with a tap. Wine pours out without letting air in (thanks, gravity!), so there's little risk of wine-ruining oxidation. And a standard box holds 3 liters, so you're actually buying four bottles' worth -- just get the good stuff, okay?

4. I sneak ice into warm red wine.
Want to know a secret? Red wine should be served cool -- about the temperature of "I just brought this up from my wine cellar." (Or, you know, "I just chilled this bottle in a bucket of icy water for five to 10 minutes.") Fish the cubes out of your glass, though: They only dilute the wine.

5. I can't talk about what I'm drinking!
It's all on your tongue. First, you'll get sweetness; if it isn't sweet, it's dry. Next, acid. It brings wine's refreshing notes (think "crisp"). Tannins --which produce red wine's puckery, dry feel -- are more suited to adjectives like "bitter" and "tannic." Finally, body (a wine's overall impression) ranges from "light" to "fat."

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